Joey Barton has accused Arsene Wenger’s current Arsenal side of having a lack of “character or spine”.
The Gunners have been tipped for a title push this term, but a disappointing start to the Premier League campaign has left them six points adrift of table toppers, and this weekend’s opponents, Chelsea already.
The London derby Wenger faces will mark 18 years in charge of the club, in which he has won three league titles, but Barton believes that the Frenchman’s record against big domestic foes means that other bosses are no longer scared of his teams:
“In big games they get under his skin and work them out tactically,” he told BBC Five Live.
Arsenal have one just one – and lost 16 – of their last 20 clashes with sides who have finished in the top five in the past five campaigns.
Barton feels that these statistics are damning and hint at major problems at the Emirates Stadium:
“That record is probably the reason they haven’t won a title for years.” He said.
“Nobody can criticise Wenger on the job he has done to build the infrastructure at that club to a fantastic level. But it’s probably been sacrificed at the cost of trophies and challenging at that level.
“You think of his teams of [Emmanuel] Petit, [Patrick] Vieira, [Tony] Adams, [Martin] Keown and all those kind of warriors. You look around the Arsenal dressing room now, the people who would win you those kind of games against the top four clubs – they don’t really have an abundance of them.
“At the latter stages of a season they come unstuck because of that lack of – I hate to say it – a real lack of character or spine within the team.”